Mark Duffner met with his players yesterday, most likely for the last time as Maryland's football coach.
Duffner and athletic director Debbie Yow, who made themselves unavailable for comment yesterday, could meet as early as this morning to discuss the status of his contract, which is guaranteed through next year. Yow is expected to fire Duffner and buy out the final year of his contract.
A 48-10 loss to No. 2 Florida State at Pro Player Park in Miami on Saturday put Maryland's final record at 5-6, the fourth losing season in Duffner's five years. He called for a meeting at 11: 30 a.m. yesterday, and a parent of a player said, "He told them he was unsure of his future."
Duffner thanked his players for their effort this season, and Geroy Simon, who ended his career as Maryland's No. 2 all-time receiver, said he also told the players to remain focused on their schoolwork.
"We just talked about academics," Simon said. "He wanted to make sure that we keep going to class, keep going straight."
Duffner has been praised for Maryland's graduation record, but he has a 20-35 record in five years and Yow was displeased with a severe drop in attendance. Maryland led the nation in attendance increase last year, but fell back to an average of 29,569 fans per game this year.
The Terps' defense was ranked in the Top 20 this season, but the offense was held to one touchdown or none in seven of the team's last nine games.
News surfaced last Thursday that a representative of Maryland had interviewed Bob Davie, who yesterday was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach at Notre Dame. It was apparent then that Yow was leaning toward firing Duffner.
Yow said that she had "received several inquiries in the last month about whether the position would be available. I've responded to the inquiries."
Duffner's base salary this year is $132,439, and his total compensation is estimated in the vicinity of $300,000. Maryland would have to spend more to attract a well-known replacement, and a $5.7 million budget deficit might preclude the hiring of someone such as former coach Bobby Ross, who is supposedly disenchanted with the NFL's San Diego Chargers.
Ross's name has been mentioned by Maryland boosters, along with that of Ralph Friedgen, his offensive coordinator, and those of East Carolina's Steve Logan, Louisville's Ron Cooper, Kansas's Glen Mason and Miami's Butch Davis.
Randy Edsall, the defensive backs' coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has also been mentioned as a possible replacement. He could not be located for comment yesterday, after the Jaguars' 28-25 overtime win over the Ravens at Memorial Stadium.
Pub Date: 11/25/96